Oates played pretty well for a man his age in Anaheim last year. He's a good pickup, and should bring a lot to that team both in a statistical and a leadership sense. The bigger implication? I take this as a pretty sure sign that the Oilers have abandonned hope of bringing back Mike Comrie, or acquiring anything of value for his rights.
Keep in mind that the 'sufficiently talented' players still differed from team to team. Despite the smaller league, shitty teams still existed...just ask all of those Rangers, Bruins and Blackhawks teams that went years without sniffing the Cup.